The 90’s- the era of the bowl haircut. Despite being a bowl-cut victim, I was a confident kid growing up. I always felt a strong sense of worthiness and a belief I could achieve anything I put my heart to. I remember one sunny day in primary school, I must have been only 7 or 8 years old, I was making a few of my classmates laugh. I can’t remember exactly what I was doing, a bit of a song and dance I think. Anyways, my teacher angrily walked over to see where all the commotion was coming from. Glaring down at me she regrettably asked,
‘William! I don’t suppose you wish to show your little performance to the WHOLE class do you?’
I imagine Miss Clack had expected me to respond with a ‘No, Miss’ and for my pale cheeks to flush red. I very much doubt she thought I’d take her up on her offer. But I did. A few moments later and the whole room, including Miss Clack, erupted in laughter, rolling around in stitches as I proudly performed. The impromptu class comedy performances stopped in Secondary School but I stayed connected with my inner confidence, I’d often be asked to play piano in assembly, performing in front of a couple of hundred students, something I took in my stride. I had a solid group of friends and school life was great!
Skip forward to my late teens/early twenties and life looked very different.
No, that’s not accurate.
Life felt very different.
To the outside world, I was the same, happy go lucky, happy, confident Will. But inside my head, a battle was taking place and I was losing. Riddled with insecurity and negativity, fighting alone with an anxious mind. My confidence took a hell of hit once I left Secondary School. Due to a few factors:
- A rough heartbreak after my childhood sweetheart and I split up.
- I had NO IDEA what I wanted to do with my life, I left Year 13 without a plan.
- I began to compare myself to those around me who were seemingly ‘doing better’ than I was, friends who were in a job they loved or at uni.
Instead of opening up, I internalised these feelings and kept them to myself. I partied Thursday-Sunday to numb out the truth, masking my emotions through gallons of Guinness and a smokey haze of Marlborough light cigarettes. This way of living caught up with me and on a cold Sunday evening in December 2011…
I had my first ever panic attack
It scared the shit out of me, feeling as if a chord had been snipped inside of my mind and as though my reality was spiraling uncontrollably out of control, difficult to put into words but I just felt a strong feeling of impending doom. Literally thinking I was losing my mind, I remember sobbing to my young brother saying ”I just don’t feel right‘. After some time, my family managed to calm down and my mum tucked me into bed that night.
I was like a big, anxious, 20-year-old baby.
I feel asleep that night realising I couldn’t continue living life this way.
The next day, accompanied by my Dad, I visited my Doctor who informed me what I had experienced was indeed Anxiety and that I should make some lifestyle changes if I wanted to avoid further episodes. I’ll never forget the shocked/impressed/appalled look on his face when I shared how much I would drink and smoke on my frequent binges. Never.
So changes needed to be happen.
And it began with a Book…
After this initial panic attack, I began to do something I had previously thought wouldn’t help… Talk about my situation and how it made me feel. You see, I was fearful about how people would react.
Would they think I’m crazy?
Would they call me a liar for pretending everything was Ok?
Would they understand?
These fears sealed my lips for a long time
But I soon discovered, by talking about my situation and how I was feeling, a small weight was being lifted off of my shoulders after each conversation. I opened up about my lack of Confidence, I opened up about my anxious mind, I opened up about the debt I was living with. I spoke with family, friends, work colleagues- and things got a little better. But only after I got Real + Honest.
So to the book. After a conversation with my good friend Mark, I purchased a book called ‘The Game’ by Neil Strauss. It was a real eye opener and although the book is all about the life and works of a Pick-up artist, I took a lot away from reading it. In particular, the idea of the comfort zones and that in order to grow our confidence and face our fears, we have to get out of our CoZones zones.
My journey into Personal Development began with this book. I learned, I learned A LOT. I devoured dozens of personal development books, reading everything from mindfulness, making money, mindset to goal-setting and how to start a business. As I read, I began to understand how and why my lifestyle and choices had caused me to experience anxiety and leave me living with debt and low confidence.
I made a decision that every day I would do something that scares me a little and slowly and surely these steps added up and I was back to living with a healthier level of mental and physical health and better levels of Confidence. And as soon as my debts were cleared, I made a very scary (but exciting) decision- to travel to the other side of the world, alone, for one year. Yes, I decided this was the best way to really face my demons and put me outside of my comfort zone, a solo trip to New Zealand.
It was the best decision I ever made. It forced me to fend for myself, learn the value of money and as a cliché as it sounds, find myself.
I returned to the UK refreshed. I worked for 2 years in a Job I adored before starting a business and working for myself. Zoom forward to today and I now work as a Coach and help people all over the world to connect with their Confidence. My own experiences help me to help others and wow, does this feel amazing.
If I was asked whether I’d go back and change my past, in particular the tough times- I would say no. I believe our toughs times happen for us not to us.
Thank you for reading,